Why Man Creates

December 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

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Saul Bass is the legendary designer who created famous corporate logos and identity campaigns for AT&T, United, Continental and Frontier Airlines, Hunt Wesson, Quaker, Alcoa, The United Way, and many more. He is perhaps best known for his design of animated title sequences for top motion pictures including Psycho, North by Northwest, Anatomy of a Murder, West Side Storyand The Man With the Golden Arm.

Saul Bass was the recipient of th AIGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1981, and he won an Oscar for Why Man Creates, in 1968.

Why Man Creates (in two parts, below) is sub-titled, “A series of explorations , episodes and comments on creativity,” and is structured in segments titled:

1. The Edifice 2. Fooling Around 3. The Process 4. The Judgment 5. A Parable
6. A Digression 7. The Search: Work in progress on new ideas.

It begins with an animated history of western culture: art, philosophy, politics and invention.

Among the film’s musings:

“Where do ideas come from?
From looking at one thing and seeing another.
From fooling around, and playing with possibilities.
From speculating. And changing.
Pushing, pulling.
Transforming.
And if you’re lucky, you come up with something worth
saving, using, and building on.
That’s where the game stops, and the work begins.”

Although told in the whimsical and surreal style popular in the short films and advertisements of the late Sixties, the film carries a timeless, universal message on the core principles of imaginative thinking. It’s a charming tale told with some pathos. In retrospect, all of the societal and scientific problems from that period remain today, but all the creative techniques for solving them still remain viable. It’s a hopeful celebration of the power of curiosity, self-expression and the human need to connect with the outer world in a meaningful way.

Why Man Creates also quotes Albert Einstein:

“As one grows older, one sees the impossibility of imposing your will on the chaos with brute force. But, if you’re patient, there may come the moment when, while you are eating an apple, the solution presents itself and says, ‘Here I am.’ “

The movie won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject. An abbreviated version of it ran on the first-ever broadcast of CBS’ 60 Minutes, on September 24, 1968. In 2002, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was recognized by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Why Man Creates was directed by Saul Bass and Elaine Bass, and was written by Saul Bass and Mayo Simon.

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